Taiwan train crash: Prosecutors seek arrest of truck owner in collision that killed 50

Prosecutors in Taiwan want to arrest the owner of an unmanned truck that rolled onto a rail track killing 50 people and injuring 178.

The train, carrying 494 passengers, came off the rails in a tunnel just north of Hualien causing some carriages to hit the wall of the tunnel on Friday.

It smashed into the construction truck after it slid down a hillside above the tracks, Taiwan Railways Administration said.

Many passengers were crushed just before the train entered the tunnel and some climbed out of windows and walked along the train’s roof to safety.

Taiwan’s government’s disaster relief centre claimed the truck’s emergency brake was not properly engaged.

Chief prosecutor Yu Hsiu-duan said her team was seeking an arrest warrant for the truck’s owner, who was questioned along with several others after the crash.

Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen has been visiting hospitals near the crash instead of the scene itself to avoid interfering with rescue work, according to her spokesperson.

“This heart-breaking accident caused many injuries and deaths. I came to Hualien today to visit the injured and express my condolences to the deceased passengers’ families,” Ms Tsai said. “We will surely help them in the aftermath.”

The leader also told reporters on Friday that she requested the Transportation Safety Committee to conduct a strict investigation.

Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung said repairs will be accelerated.

After touring the crash site, Mr Lin said: “When such a thing happens, I feel very sorry and I will take full responsibility.”

Workers managed to remove the two rearmost cars from the tracks on Saturday morning, but a third could not be moved before tracks are repaired.

A further five cars are still wedged in the tunnel.

Two large construction cranes have been seen located next to the train in a remote wooded cliff area on the island’s east coast.

Weng Hui-ping, head of the railway administration’s news group, says the operation should be done within a week.

Among the people who died in the crash was the train’s young, newly married driver and the assistant driver, the National Fire Service said.

The crash is the island’s worst rail disaster since a train caught fire in 1948 in suburban Taipei which killed 64 people.

The train was an express service travelling from Taipei to Taitung carrying many tourists and people heading home at the start of a long weekend.

Images of the crash scene showed some carriages inside the tunnel crumbled and ripped apart from the impact.

The country’s last major rail crash was in 2018 when an express train derailed while negotiating a tight corner on the northeast coast, killing at least 18 people and injuring nearly 200.

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